Introducing Students to Lab robotics

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welikemice's picture
Introducing Students to Lab robotics

I have been asked to help teach a 2 hour lab to a class of pharmaceutical students. The idea is to introduce them to lab robotics, since may will likely have to maintain/repair robotic systems in their future. I am not sure where to start them.
Through my work I have been in charge of installation and operation of several liquid handling robotics to do assay setups of Gel-based and real time PCR on transgenic animals. What I know about my robots was that we got training from the vendor to understand their programing style and that everyone has their own programs to run their robots. I have worked with Tecan/ Beckman/ and Qiagen robots through my work.
My initial idea was to take one of the labs they had already worked on, and show how they might setup that procedure on a robot that I am familiar with, IE how to approach setting up the programming, but that is harder without a robot and it's program in front of them. I am willing to wing it like that, but I am wondering if their is an better teaching tool.
Any suggestions on articles to read to prepare them for the class, or where to get documentation on robotic systems, so they can see what one looks like, at free or low cost.

itaylor's picture
There are a couple things I

There are a couple things I would recommend. If you are familiar with Tecan liquid handling and have an instrument somewhere you can demonstrate methods with their virtual automation software. I think it comes with most instruments to test methods without crashing the instruments. I couldn't give you any specifics. You could contact Tecan as well and see if they'll send you a complimentary copy if you already have a machine.

Second, just to start you can break down a method without an instrument. I think this is a better approach anyway design is more difficult and works kind of like an outline before you write. (ie you outline the method before you start programming). For example, you could bring in the blocks, troughs and tips and have an actual problem to design around to demonstrate the method before going to an instrument.

youtube is also a good place to find robotic demonstrations that could visually augment the assay designs.

samm's picture
Just to add to what Ian said,

Just to add to what Ian said, I've always found it useful to have a flow chart of my protocol in place, with both manual and robotic steps outlined. Once you have that design/flowchart, it is fairly easy to translate that into the instrument you use.
We have used two instruments with very different programming and input parameters for liquid handling and washing, and I've found this approach really helps.